Regarding Scripture: II Corinthians 2.5-8
In the second letter to the Corinthians, we find much autobiographical information about Paul and the defense of his apostleship. While this information is necessary and valuable, this month we will briefly examine some of the practical lessons contained in this letter. Following we will see how these lessons impact us as they impacted the Christians of Corinth in their daily walk before Jehovah.
Children make knots in string many times during their childhood. There are some adolescents who continue their knot tying skills, moving beyond the tried and true granny knot. These adolescents learn multiple knot styles and develop the skill of tying those knots in different styles of rope. Yet many adults find their knot tying skills sufficient from childhood, therefore there are even fewer adults who learn the skill of the interwoven knot let alone the mathematical implications of knot tying.
Many strings and ropes can be mended by tying knots. And it may be natural to assume that if string or rope were to break that it could be repaired to be as good as new with a knot. Knots are temporary repairs, not permanent. Knots actually weaken rope. Secondly, unless there is a flaw somewhere else in the rope, the rope will fail near the knot. Finally, knots cause uneven stress on rope and this uneven stress lessens the rope’s strength.1 Knowing this, when it comes to tying things together, like mooring a ship to the dock, which is better: one rope with a knot, or many unbroken, unknotted ropes?
Have you ever noticed that when children use string, they use what seems like an unneeded excess? One string simply is not enough. For children, if one string is good, then two, three, four, and more is better. Here is our application: sometimes we adults forget this simple principle, more strings are best – regardless of what is being tied. Notice a moored ship, she is moored with multiple lines, not one. What would happen if it she were moored with one, and that one failed. The ship would drift away. When multiple lines moor any ship there is safety, even when one line breaks. Relationships are no different.
The relationship could be parent to child, husband to wife, wife to husband, brother to brother, sister to sister, or employer to employee, the relationship does not matter.. We see a variation of this principle of tying strings in II Corinthians 2. In the first four verses, Paul is tying strings in his relationship with the Corinthians. He is mooring their relationship because First Corinthians was a harsh letter. Not in an ugly way, but when people come face-to-face with difficult truth, it is never easy. However, Paul’s admonition of string tying in 2.5-11 is of peculiar interest.
These verses apply to the situation of a son having his father’s wife.2 The congregation was to put this particular sin away from them.3 It appears that by the time II Corinthians was written, the son had repented and changed, but it seems that he was possibly carrying much guilt. The reality is that once the sin has been addressed and the person who received the correction and instruction changes their behavior, it can be difficult for those who did the correction to change their attitude. Paul is stating that it is imperative, absolutely vital, that the corrected be reassured and uplifted. This is tying strings. This is relationship building.
This is a situation were a mooring line had been severed, but Paul is telling the Christians to establish another mooring line. He is not advocating tying a knot, but replacing the old broken line with a new line. Every relationship experiences strain, and stress. But relationships that have multiple strings of love and communion can survive the broken string of betrayal, hurt and violation. Let us make sure our relationships have so many good strings tying us together that when a failure happens all is not lost. How many strings have you tied in your relationships? And are you constantly tying strings in your relationships, even after failure?
1 Knot Weaknesses – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knot; August 29, 2007
2 I Corinthians 5.1-8
3 I Corinthians 5.5, 7